Turning on the subtitles improves literacy
From an article by Turn On the Subtitles
Sometimes the simplest ideas are the best. What if you were told that there was a way to dramatically improve the literacy levels of millions of children? What if it was free?
Extensive research across multiple countries has shown a way to improve children’s literacy. It’s incredibly simple; just turn on the subtitles in the same language as the audio and word for word, what you hear is what you read, in perfect timing..
In a longitudinal study of continuous caption use in the home, children who viewed with captions scored significantly higher on normative tests of word identification and passage comprehension when compared with non-caption viewers.
In a study with struggling readers in Grades 2-3 from economically disadvantaged urban locations in the US, subtitle exposure was limited to just six 30-minute episodes from children’s TV. Still, “The majority of outcomes… indicated that children who viewed with captions outperformed their counterparts who viewed without captions,” and the improvement was most pronounced among children at risk for poor reading outcomes.
Similarly, in New Zealand, a study found that in a six-week programme for children aged 5-13 years, which used popular, subtitled movies and accompanying novels to engage students in reading literacy, the greatest gains occurred for ‘low-progress’ readers. A positive impact was also observed for average and higher-level readers.
The impact of subtitles in India, after sustaining it for 5 years on a weekly hour-long programme of Hindi film songs telecast nationally in prime time, showed that, among school children who could not read a single letter in Hindi at the baseline, 70% in the subtiltle viewing group became functional readers by the endline as compared to 34% in the non-subtitle group.
The benefits of subtitle viewing are not limited to reading literacy - they include media access and language acquisition.
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After months of lockdown and summer holidays looming, get parents in your community to switch the subtitles on?
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